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Posted by Louise White on 06 July 2016

Simple steps to take to improve your conversion rates

As discussed in some of our previous blog posts it's clear that the international school's market is becoming increasingly crowded, and as a result highly competitive.

In order to fill spaces, a school must clearly position itself as the best choice for parents to send their children to.  And to do this effectively, more and more international schools are shifting their focus to digital marketing in order to increase visibility, and make themselves known to as many prospective parents (and students) as possible.

In our earlier top ten tips blog we highlighted the different ways in which international schools can take advantage of digital marketing to increase admission enquiries.  One of our recommendations was to invest in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, and we're going to explore that topic further here - looking at the steps you can take to improve the performance of your PPC landing pages, with specific focus on improving your call-to-actions (CTAs).

What is a PPC Landing Page?

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a digital marketing activity where your school pays a search engine such as google to show your advert when a visitor does a search for relevant keyword(s). It offers the benefit of not relying on organic traffic as you are paying for traffic and can be a key lead generation tool. 

A PPC landing page is the web page which a visitor will visit after clicking on your PPC advert that allows you to capture their details through encouraging the visitor to take a specific action e.g. providing their contact details to request a school visit or be emailed the school prospectus.

The goal of running a PPC advert is to get prospective parents to visit your landing page (without the distraction of arriving on your home page and being offered lots of different options) and then take a desired action to engage further with your school.

What exactly is a CTA?

HubSpot offer the handy description of "a call to action (usually abbreviated as CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a 'call' to take an 'action'".

Focusing on the performance of your CTAs will result in significant conversion rate improvements, and therefore should increase admission enquiries for your international school.

With valuable content and clear CTAs, landing pages are a tried and tested approach to generating leads.

So, what can your school do to ensure your landing pages are working as effectively as possible?

Ten steps to improving the performance of your landing page(s)

1. Make your content compelling

Imagine the scenario where you’ve created a landing page to help increase admission enquiries for your international school - your reporting shows that plenty of traffic is coming to your page but the majority of visitors aren’t converting to leads. So, why aren’t prospective parents clicking that all important CTA button?

Well in actual fact, it’s likely that the problem isn't with your CTA. A prospective parent needs a reason to submit an enquiry and give you their valuable contact details.  Potential leads will be thinking “what’s in it for me?”, therefore it's crucial that you clearly show what sets your international school apart from the competition by publishing clear, relevant and concise copy on your landing pages. 

Top Tips

  • Allow users to skim read by using bullet or numbered points instead of extensive paragraphs
  • Use statistics to reinforce your message. So for example a fact such as, “95% of our students pass the International Baccalaureate diploma with an average score of 40, 15% higher than the global average” will carry more weight than content that simply states “Our students regularly achieve the highest grades for the International Baccalaureate.”

2. Build a relationship with your visitors

Of course, you want visitors to click your CTA on your landing page as soon as possible, but it’s important to build a relationship first as opposed to pushing them to make a decision too early and risk them bouncing straight off. Visitors to your landing page won’t part with their contact details easily. They have to be absolutely sure that your international school is the right choice for their family, and be given reason to explore further.

Chances are that your potential customers won’t interact with your call-to-action without knowing what they’re signing up for. So, avoid placing the button too high up the page before the user has had a chance to read and digest the content. Take time to set the scene and make it clear the content you wish to communicate to your visitor and how they will benefit from interacting further with your school.

3. Showcase your Unique Selling Point(s)

Your admissions landing page should have one clear, focused goal - to increase admissions to your school. So in order to meet that goal, you need to promote your unique selling point(s). Think about what is so special about your school? What can you offer that other international schools can’t?

Try to come up with engaging and memorable text to set the scene. List the benefits of your school’s education, outstanding facilities and exam success amongst other things in an easy to digest and concise manner. Be careful to strike the right balance though and don't bombard your visitors with an information overload.

4. Pay attention to the look and feel

Your CTA should stand out more than anything else on your landing page. A cleanly designed, uncluttered landing page with a bright, bold CTA button is a classic design pattern that can’t fail to to draw the eye. There are many small adjustments you can make to help improve the visibility and ‘clickability’ of your landing page’s CTA.

Top Tips

  • Give the text plenty of space and make the button a decent size
  • Using a colour that contrasts well with your page background colour will draw the eye. Consider a white page background and a CTA button that uses a strong colour from your school’s brand
  • Avoid cluttering up the area in which the CTA sits with images or text. Allow plenty of white space around the button otherwise it may get lost amongst the noise of the rest of the content
  • Avoid clashing or uncomfortable colour combinations such as white text on a yellow button as this is difficult to read for people with poor eyesight
  • Remember to make the button text clear and legible. It is always best to go with a crisp sans-serif font rather than an ornate script style font

5. Inject some personality

Let your school’s personality shine through in your landing pages by using high quality and relevant photography. Showcase images that tell the story of what life at your school involves; show students in their classroom environment, highlight your first class facilities, let visitors learn more about your location etc. These images will help to break up blocks of text and will also reinforce your landing page’s key message.

You can also bring the personality of your school alive online by writing in a personal style and using language such as ‘you’, ‘us’, and ‘we’ - all helping to establish empathy and trust between your international school and visitors to your landing page.

6. Include testimonials from students and parents

Using real quotes and testimonials from previous and current students and parents is a great way to further establish your school as a reputable and trustworthy institution. This further drives up conversions as research conducted in the USA has shown that “63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.”

Hearing other’s experience with your school will reinforce your message and visitors to your admissions landing page are much more likely to interact further with your school. 

7. Know your audience 

This is perhaps the most important thing to get right. Your landing page could be filled with the most enticing copy and imagery but if your content isn't relevant to your audience then it will hurt your conversion rate.

Think carefully about who you are trying to target with your landing pages - is it families moving to the area, expats, locals or all of the above? Profile all of the different groups whom you wish to interact with on your admissions landing page(s) and try to identify their goals and any pain points they might have.

For example, some people may have found your page from a generic search engine term such as “International Schools in Switzerland”. This is a very broad search term that would include results for private schools, public schools and schools that focus on a particular curriculum amongst other things. Some searchers may be looking for a private school specifically, or a school that teaches the UK National Curriculum whereas others may not have thought too much about what type of school they want to send their children to.

It’s important to consider what part of the decision making process prospective parents may be at when they visit your landing page. That way you can tailor your content to appeal to each demographic, and ultimately increase conversions.

8. Use short, action-oriented words

To ensure your call-to-action really grabs your visitor’s attention, use short and punchy action-oriented words. Most web users skim-read content so you need to communicate your message as clearly and concisely as possible.

Make sure the wording you choose links in with your landing page content and is related to what you’re offering. Relevant keywords encourage clicks and indicate what will happen after the user clicks the CTA. For example, making a simple CTA text tweak such as from ‘Download’ to ‘Download Prospectus’ can offer huge improvements to conversion rates by making it clear exactly what interacting with the CTA will result in for the user.

You can also encourage visitors to click through by bringing in a sense of urgency to the CTA. For example, using ‘Enquire now!’ instead of simply ‘Enquire’ or 'Send’ or ‘Submit’ is more engaging and feels more instant.  We recommend avoiding generic terms such as ‘Click Here’ which don't give any indication of what will happen after the click.

9. Generating leads

Great news! Visitors are engaging with your landing page’s call-to-action. But there’s still some way to go before inquisitive visitors become leads.

When gathering user information on your landing page (or on the click-through form page), try to keep to a maximum of around five form fields. The length of your form and the level of personal data requested can have a direct impact on conversion. The main aim of your landing page is to increase admission enquiries therefore avoid asking for any non-vital information at this early stage. Instead use the form simply to collect essential information like name and email address.

Lastly, make it clear exactly what the user will gain in exchange for their contact information such as further information regarding school open days by email, recent exam success download or a prospectus etc.

10. Test, analyse, optimise, repeat!

Last of all (but certainly not least!), to really know if the changes you’ve made are working, you need to test your landing pages regularly. Invest in A/B testing, and analyse the results and implement changes where necessary.

Any website changes you make should be continually measured and optimised to ensure conversion chances are maximised.

You can test any element of your landing page; word count, use of imagery, adding a video etc. But at the very least you should always test your CTAs. We would recommend only changing one thing at a time, and then running an A/B test. Even a small change like tweaking the colour of the CTA button can influence a prospective parent’s likelihood of clicking through so it really is worth the time.

In conclusion

Hopefully you have now learned that there are many ways in which you can improve not only your call-to-action, but your landing pages as a whole. Even the smallest change can have a serious effect on your conversion rates.

There are thousands of international schools around the globe striving to recruit students and simply having a website won't be enough to encourage enquiries and ultimately drive up admissions. Standing out from the crowd is vital for continued success in this sector.

And when it comes to landing pages, remember to test, test, test! To quote ‘The Father of Advertising’ David Ogilvy, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

If you’d like to discuss what Status can do to help improve the digital marketing performance of your international school then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You can find out more about our work with leading international schools group Nord Anglia by viewing our case study section.

And please do also subscribe to our blog to keep updated on digital marketing news and advice in the education sector!


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